Once upon a time, I worked in the IT department at a fairly large Christian publishing company. I had made a move to that company at the urging of a friend from my previous job who had done the same thing and who said I would love it. He was right: I did love it! (And he got a recruitment bonus, so everybody won!) I enjoyed my work, I enjoyed my coworkers (some of whom I am still in touch with), and it was just an all-around fun place to work. One day I was chatting with my department manager, whom I had become pretty good friends with by that time, and we agreed that we hoped we could continue to work there until we were too old and had to retire!
Then 2001 happened.
There were several factors, I think, to what happened to me... the dot-com thing was coming to a head, and so the economy was suffering. The company had some financial struggles, and apparently some internal difficulties, most of which I didn't know about then and don't know about now and honestly hope to never know the details of. And then the September 11 attacks happened and the whole country went into an uproar. And because of some or all of those factors, the publishing company started selling off divisions and letting employees go.
For months I felt a target on my back. I was the Web site programmer, for goodness sakes. What's easier to outsource than Web design and programming? I just knew that I was going to be among the first to go... but it didn't happen that way. Maybe it was because I had a new baby (about a year and a half old by that time) and a newer mortgage (about 8 months old by that time) to feed, and my bosses knew it. Hopefully it was because the quality of my work was such that they hated to see me go. I wound up hanging on for several months, but eventually one day in November of 2001, I found myself loading a couple of boxes of my personal belongings into my car and driving away, unemployed.
I was optimistic at the time. I knew that companies were looking for seasonal help around that time of year, and I expected to at least be able to get some work in retail. And you know, that season and that next year were both scary and exciting. We saw God provide for us over and over... as soon as one source of income would dry up, another consulting job would turn up or another opportunity would present itself. I took some classes in database design that have served me well in my jobs since then. And we never even had to so much as get our cable TV turned off. All year I was incredibly optimistic. But by the end of 2002, my unemployment benefits were running out and I still didn't have a regular job, and I was starting to feel panicky. I stopped praying in faith and basically started to cry out to God in fear. I think I traumatized myself a bit in that couple of months. God was faithful, however, even though I had stopped walking on the water and started to sink, and He presented two permanent job situations to me at the same time! I took one of them, and the next three years there were a wonderful experience. (Why I'm not there now is another story, but it was a voluntary and amicable parting.)
Fast-forward to yesterday. I had occasion to pick something up at the same office building where the publishing company had been housed. I'm pretty sure I haven't been there since the day I was laid off. The parking lot has been changed up a bit, and the lobby has been heavily remodeled (it looks fabulous). As I walked into the same set of doors that I had walked out of with my boxes of stuff, though, I felt a strong sense of sadness. I love the job I'm at now, but I loved that job too... so many friends and so many happy memories. I didn't and don't feel a sense of rejection about the whole thing... just a sense of loss. When we left our long-time church recently I was reflecting on how whenever God is telling me to make a change of some kind, basically the current situation just starts to become more and more uncomfortable until I do what needs to be done. Maybe that's part of why I had that "target-on-the-back" feeling, I don't know. Maybe I should have left voluntarily, and if I had I wouldn't have had quite the sense of having something taken away from me.
But for whatever reason, yesterday as I entered the building I had once had an office in, even after the eight years in between I still felt the sting of loss. Thank God, He is good. Thank God He provided then and still provides now. Now our second child is roughly the age the first one was then. We still have the same mortgage. This is my third "permanent" job after the one I got laid off from. Even with all that, I guess there's still a little scar there. Maybe that hurt will never heal completely, I don't know. But I do know that I'm going to serve God no matter what, and one day it won't matter anymore anyway... I'll be with Jesus in Eternity, all hurts will be healed, and that day will be ancient, ancient history!